Passion, Power, and Intrigue in An Enduring Family Drama

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Another New Employee

When Lucy Laurenzana woke up on the second day of March her back hurt, her knees ached, and if she didn’t know better she would swear that she’d just spent the night sleeping on a barbecue grill. Staring across the living room and into the kitchen where she could see the pile of unwashed dishes from the night before, Lucy wished for the millionth time that she could afford a two-bedroom apartment so she wouldn’t have to sleep in the living room on a crappy old sofa bed her cousin had given her.
          If only she had some money. Or a better paying job. Her thoughts took a darker turn. If only she hadn’t had Pierre
          Lucy stopped herself. She loved her son more than life itself. He gave her a reason to get up in the mornings and she couldn’t imagine her life without him squarely in the center of it. If only his father was part of the picture. Then Lucy would have someone to share both the joys and sorrows of raising her son.
          Throwing back the covers, Lucy swung her legs over the side of the sofa bed. It was pointless to imagine how different her life—and Pierre’s—would be if his father wasn’t such a pathetic loser. “What was I thinking?” Lucy muttered to herself. “How could I ever have let someone like Dick Thomas even touch me, much less impregnate me?”
          Fixing herself a pot of coffee, Lucy reflected that she must have been temporarily insane when she had sex with Dan. There was no other plausible reason. And now she worked for the man at the new charter school in Schuyler Square. Obviously her insanity wasn't temporary.
          Dick was known around town as an incurable Don Juan and in his younger and stronger days use to have his trysts in a small tent perched on the bluffs overlooking Schuyler Square. How his wife tolerated him and his endless flings was beyond Lucy’s power of imagination. If she had been his wife, she would have murdered him a long time ago.
          Lucy could still remember the first time Dick had taken her to the tent. They had driven up there in separate cars, of course, and throughout the drive Lucy had been almost jumping out of her skin in anticipation. The rumors she’d heard about Dick and his skills as a lover led her to believe that she was in for an afternoon delight that would take her to heights of passion that none of her former boyfriends had even come close to scaling.
          Wrong. Maybe in his younger days Dick had been something to talk about but when Lucy finally had the opportunity to sample his charms she was as disappointed as she’d be after ordering a seven-course meal and ending up with the diet plate.
          “So why did I keep going back for more?” Lucy asked the coffeemaker. “Why didn’t I stop before he knocked me up?”
          Lucy sighed. None of that really mattered. What was done was done. And she did love Pierre, in spite of the fact that Dick refused to have anything—emotionally or financially—with their son. Dick claimed it was because she’d given their baby a “fruity” name. Why the hell did you pick "Pierre’? he’d demanded. Why didn’t you name him something macho, like Brick or Chuck? And he’d refused flat out to sign the birth certificate.
          Not that Lucy had really expected that he would. How would he have explained that to Ginger and the umpteen relatives the two of them had in and around the county? But even though Dick wasn’t paying child support, he had given her a job at his new charter school. Granted, it wasn’t much of a job but it kept a roof over their heads and paid for little Pierre’s day care.
          After finishing her coffee, Lucy woke Pierre up and got him ready for day care. “Mommy,” Pierre said as they drove to the Kiddie Kollege, “do I have a daddy?”
          Lucy felt a flash of acid shoot up her throat. Pierre hadn’t asked her that question before. “Of course you do, honey. Everyone has a daddy.”
          “Where is my daddy?” Pierre asked.
          Lucy thought frantically. She couldn’t tell her three year old son that his father was her boss. How could she explain that? What would she say? I’m sorry, baby, but Mommy was kind of a tramp for a while and your daddy is this fat, old bastard who signs my paycheck every week. Pierre might tell his teacher, Miss Susan, that and it would be all over town. “Your daddy is dead,” she announced.
          “Dead?”
          “Yes, I’m sorry to tell you that, sweetie, but he died in a terrible farming accident.” I’m going straight to hell for lying to my child.
          “Oh.”
          Lucy glanced over at Pierre. He didn’t seem too broken up. “Yes,” she elaborated, “he died before you were born but I know he loved you very, very much.” Some day she’d tell him the truth but not now. It would be much better for both of them if she waited until Pierre was grown and couldn’t be scarred too much by the knowledge that his biological father was the local lothario who had a permanent case of the clap and who cared as much about his own child as he might about a dead skunk.
          “Can we have pizza for dinner?” Pierre asked.
          “Of course!” Lucy agreed. “We can have anything you want, Pierre.” And she meant it. If it took every last cent she ever earned, her  son was never going to want for anything.
          Lucy was still stewing over Pierre’s sudden question about his paternity as she pulled into the parking lot at work. Quickly she scanned the cars and saw that all of the other new employees were there. Dick’s enormous Ford truck overshadowed all the other cars and was parked across four spaces so Lucy had to park her own 1974 Nova in the students’ parking lot. Dan was such a selfish, thoughtless jerk. Honestly, someone would be doing the world a favor if they just whacked the guy.
          She was opening her office door when another new employee, Greg Ingersoll, appeared out of nowhere. “Good morning, Lucy.”
          Lucy tried to sound pleasant. “Hello, Greg.”
          “How’s your son?” Greg smirked.
          Lucy didn’t answer him. She knew that Greg was well aware of who Pierre’s father was—the little creep was Dick’s right hand and the two had a history that went back to when Greg was a Cub Scout and Dick was his Troop Leader—and Lucy resented the way Greg treated her like a two dollar tootsie. “I wonder if it’s going to rain today,” she said pleasantly.
          “Snow is more like it,” Greg replied. “After all, it is December and we do live in Minnesota. How’s everything going with Dick these days?”
          “Fine.”
          “I hear you two aren’t getting along.”
          “Where’d you hear that?”
          “Oh, you know how it is at any job. We all know what’s going on with each other.”
          “I never know what’s going on.”
          “Well, I mean the salaried staff,” Greg corrected himself. 
          Lucy gritted her teeth. She’d worked at places where the hourly staff and the salaried staff were treated differently but her new job at Schuyler Square Charter School made those places look like models of Utopian Ideals of Democracy. “Dick and I are getting along fine.”
          “I heard you told Millie that you hoped Dick would drop dead.” Greg said conversationally.
          Lucy almost dropped her lunch bag. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
          Greg smirked again. “You’d better watch it, Lucy. The other guys on the staff might think you’re one hot mama but you don’t fool me.”
          “What’s that supposed to mean?”
          “It means that if I were you I’d keep my resume up to date. Dick’s not going to be in charge around here forever.” Greg winked at her and for a moment looked so much like Judy Garland in drag that Lucy almost expected him to break into a chorus of Over the Rainbow. She watched as he vanished down the hall toward his classroom.
          Dick appeared behind her. “Why are you blocking the doorway?” he asked. “You make a better door than a window, you know.”
          “Dick, Greg just said something to me that I have no idea how he could have heard. I think my office is bugged.”
          Dick’s laugh was short and ugly. “You are paranoid. What’s the matter with you? Why the hell would anyone around here be interested in anything you have to say?”
          Dick had a point. The school staff was interested primarily in themselves and Lucy didn’t doubt that none of them gave a collective rat’s behind about what she said in private. Still, it was more than a little strange how Greg was able to quote her exactly. 
          I suppose I’d better stop going around saying how much I hope Dick Thomas dies a horrible, painful death. With my luck the old pervert will be murdered and I’ll be blamed for it.
          “Are you planning on moving any time soon?” Dick asked. "You've got a lot of work waiting on your desk, you know."
          Lucy swept into her office. Greg had been right about one thing; the time had come to dust off her resume. She might have just started her new job but she could already see that she'd never be able to stay there forever. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Teacher Scarlett Nito

Her thin lips curling in their perpetual sneer, Scarlett Nito pulled into her spot behind the new charter school and put her Saab into Park.  Sitting for a moment and savoring the hum of the engine, Scarlett reflected how much she had in common with her car.  They were both well-built, expensive, and about twenty-five years past their prime. 
            When it was new, the Saab had been a luxury car that turned heads when she drove down the tree lined streets of Schuyler Square.  The good people of that dreary little Midwestern town drove Tauruses and Impalas. The more adventurous souls might drive a VW but that was about as foreign as anyone ever went. But that had been a long time ago. Now her car was faded, more than a touch shabby, and had torn upholstery and no one bothered to look at it twice.
Scarlett, too, was a bit faded.  Once upon a time she’d been a beautiful woman with a figure that made grown men weak in the knees.  Back in her days at the University of Minnesota, Scarlett, with her alabaster white skin, thick chestnut hair and deep sea green eyes, had been that rare commodity: a beautiful girl with an impossibly high IQ. 
            Staring through her windshield, Scarlett gave a deep sigh.  She’d been beautiful and she’d been brilliant.  Now she was only brilliant.  Fifty-five years old, as smart as Einstein, and stuck in this backwater town teaching mentally defective, bone lazy, tattooed and pierced adolescents who’d rather be off smoking dope than sitting in her classroom listening to her expound on the raw beauty of Faulkner.
            Damn Charlie anyway.  If her husband had been even a halfway decent professor he would have landed position at a college that had a little prestige, a little more glitz and a hell of a lot more glamour than Schuyler Square Community College.  Her sneer deepened as she thought about her husband.  Tubby little Charlie with his curly grey hair and big fat belly.  Boring little Charlie who told her the same dull stories about his same dull days, never once noticing how her eyes were glazing over or how she always yawned at precisely the same moment during each telling.  They’d been married for over thirty years and while she’d never been passionately attracted to the man, she’d at least thought she’d been marrying someone who would earn a good living and who might shed some of that reflected glory on her.
            “It’s all Charlie's fault that I have to go to work.  He misrepresented himself to me.” And he had.  Scarlett could have had any man she wanted when she was in college.  She’d chosen Charlie because she thought he had a future.  Some future.  After ten years of waiting for him to finally get the breakthrough she was waiting for, Scarlett had realized that it wasn’t going to happen. That was when she went back to teaching. True, being a high school teacher wasn’t the glamour job she’d always envisioned herself having but it beat trying to make it on Charlie’s pathetic little salary.
Getting out of the car, Scarlett readied herself for the interview she was about to have with Schuyler Square Charter School's principal. She was sure she'd get the job--only a fool wouldn't hire her--but she never liked interviews. They made her nervous and Scarlett despised feeling nervous about anything.
            “Good morning, Scarlett.”
            Scarlett looked up and frowned when she saw who had spoken to her. Jeff Winters was walking toward the back door too.  Damn.  That meant they’d have to walk in together.  Of all the teachers she had ever worked with, Jeff had to be her least favorite. Was it possible that he would be teaching at the new charter school too? Scarlett tried not to sniff as she returned his greeting.  “Good morning, Jeff.”
            “Man, I love that accent,” Jack said, just as he said every other day.  “You damn Brits.  You sound so sexy with that accent—all ice and frost on the outside but a regular raging inferno in the sack, am I right?”
            Scarlett gave him a full blast from her cool green eyes.  “Jeff, on many occasions you make me sick to my stomach.  This is one of them.”
            Throwing back his head, Jeff laughed, displaying many years of a total lack of dental care.  “Keep on telling me no, Scarlett.  Then when you say yes and we take our lunch break at the Drop On Inn we’ll both be thrilled.”  He winked at her.  
            Scarlett recoiled.  She wasn’t about to entertain any dirty talk from the likes of a twerp like Jeff. “Good day, Jeff.  I have an interview to get to.  She pushed past him and up the steps, feeling soiled after hearing his disgusting voice.
            Safely inside the school, Scarlett relaxed and set her dark brown leather briefcase on the floor. There wasn’t anything in it but her lunch (one half of a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, a small Tupperware container of low fat cottage cheese, and an apple) but she liked the way it made her look. Carrying a briefcase made her look like a professional, Scarlett was a big believer image. After all, her looks had played a major part in her life until she lost them.
            She made her way to the director's office and paused, running her tongue over her lips so that they glistened. She had to ace this interview. She simply had to. It was either become a teacher at Schuyler Square Charter School or become a stocker at one of the discount stores and Scarlett knew that she'd never be able to handle that. Not with all of her class.
         

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas from Schuyler Square

Much has happened in Schuyler Square since our last visit. Mavis Schuyler married Leo, the blind date her sons found for her, and moved with her new hubby to Bermuda. Tyler and Brad Schuyler sold the family business and are both happily spending their days spending the family money. Tom Hartman and Veronica Chandler along with Tom's daughter Tiffany left Schuyler Square for the bright lights of Chicago. Mindy Cooper was hired to work for a gossip magazine and is now in Florida earning a huge salary for churning out stories about space aliens and the peculiar bedroom habits of movie stars. The population of Schuyler Square has changed almost completely so welcome to Schuyler Square: The Next Generation...

"So what exactly is a charter school?" Ginger Thomas looked at her husband, Dick, quizzically.

Dick shrugged. "I'm not exactly sure of the official definition but from what I can figure out a charter school is a regular school run by people want to do something different with education."

"Different how? Charter schools are in the news all the time for doing things wrong. How can the Schuyler Square Charter School be different?" Ginger asked, a worried tone in her voice. Dick had been involved in so many schemes and outright con games throughout their 30 year marriage that she was worried that his latest idea--teaching at Schuyler Square Charter School--was just another foolish idea of his that would eventually blow up in both of their faces.

"I don't know, Ginger, but whatever it is I'm getting in on the ground floor and I think it's going to work out just fine. It's a good thing I kept my teaching license active after getting fired after that incident at my last job."

Ginger cringed. The 'incident' Dick was talking about was still murky in her mind and although she knew she should ask Dick about the details of why he got fired from being the tennis coach at an all-girls high school, she had never been able to work up the nerve. Dick had a hair trigger temper that she had no intention of igniting. "What will you do there?" she asked.

"I'm going be the principal," Dick said proudly.

"But how can you be the principal?" Ginger asked. "You don't have a superintendent's license."

"Doesn't matter. I can learn. I might be over 50 but I know how to run a tight ship. By the end of the first semester I'm sure I'll know how to do everything that needs to be done and the first thing on my agenda at that point will be to give myself a nice, fat raise. I'm sure I'll have earned it."

Ginger opened her mouth to question Dick's judgment but stopped herself in time. Dick never liked it when she questioned anything that he did. But she had to ask one more question. "Dick, is this legal?"

Dick laughed heartily. "That's the beauty of it, Ginger, it's 100 percent legal. There isn't a chance in hell that I'll be doing any time over this one. I'm finally going to be on the right side of the law. Isn't that great?"

Ginger tried to smile but it was hard. So many of Dick's schemes had started out sounding wonderful but had ended up something completely different. "I hope so," she said doubtfully.

"Stop raining on my parade," Dick ordered. "Now I've got to get down to the school and do some interviewing. I want a staff that will ask 'how high?' when I tell them to jump."

Dick slammed out of the house. The moment Ginger was sure that he was gone she poured herself a large glass of brandy. At least he has a job, she told herself.  But she couldn't help question how long this latest job of Dick's would last.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Finding a Suitable Blind Date for Mom

Although Tyler and Brad Schuyler had led privileged childhoods, they weren't completely unaware of the fact that other people lived lifestyles a little different from their own. Tyler and Brad knew that not everyone had a live-in maid, their own car on their sixteenth birthday and lifelong memberships to the Schuyler Square Country Club. They had even known people who drove economy cars instead of luxury models and who stayed at chain motels when they went on vacations. But nothing had prepared either of them for Leo Farmer's house.

"This place is a pigsty," Brad muttered under his breath as he eyed a foot high stack of dirty laundry that was scattered across the floor. "It stinks too. How'd you find this guy?"

"Shut up," Tyler quietly ordered. "He'll hear you."

"Him?" Brad said in disbelief as he gestured across the room toward the naked, hairy back of Leo Farmer. "We could clash a couple of cymbals together and he wouldn't hear us. He asked me five times what my name is and I'm sure that's due to some major league wax blockage in those disgusting ears. Look at him!"

Reluctantly Tyler glanced over at the spot where Leo was standing in front of his kitchen sink, vigorously lathering his face, neck and torso with both hands and a bar of Ivory soap. He looked a great deal like a half-naked grizzly bear. A bald half-naked grizzly bear wearing blue and white striped pajama bottoms and pink fuzzy slippers. "He's a little rough around the edges but I'm sure he'll clean up just fine."

"Are you insane? The only thing that's going to be different when he's clean is that he won't smell quite so bad. Seriously, Tyler, can you really see Mom going out with that?"

"She'll go if she thinks he's richer than Donald Trump," Tyler said optimistically.

"Tell me again how you found this guy," Brad requested but at that moment Lou turned to face them so the brothers had to stop their conversation.

"That's better," Leo said in a voice that was a cross between a growl and a snarl. "I feel like a new man. Let me get a clean shirt on and then I'll go pick up your mom."

"Uh, Leo, maybe you'd better put some pants on too," Tyler suggested. "The Schuyler Square Country Club is a little on the fancy side."

Looking down at his torn and faded pajama bottoms, Leo laughed. "Good idea! I wouldn't want to shock all those stuffed shirts with my at home clothes. I'll be right down, boys. Help yourselves to a beer if you want one. I think I started a can that's on the top shelf." Leo left the combination living room/kitchen. A moment later Tyler and Brad heard a door slam down the hallway.

Immediately Brad collapsed onto Leo's sofa. "This is a nightmare! How are you ever going to convince Mom that Leo Farmer is a billionaire widower?"

"Mom will believe whatever we tell her," Tyler said, wishing that he believed what he was saying.

"I'm not so sure about that. I think she had a pretty good time with that Chuck guy last night. She didn't get home until after four in the morning. I doubt she'll be interested in meeting someone new. Especially someone like Leo."

"Stop worrying. Leo is going to make Mom forget all about Chuck."

"Why do I doubt that? Now tell me fast--where did you find that Bozo?"

"At the unemployment office," Tyler reluctantly admitted.

"The what?"

"You know, the place where people go when they can't find a job. Leo is an unemployed actor-slash-party entertainer."

"What's a party entertainer?"

"It's kind of like a clown only more classy. Leo juggles and tells jokes and also makes his own appetizers shaped like torpedos. He calls them 'Leo's Torpedos. He said they're out of this world."

"And you, naturally, believed him. Why did I let you talk me into this? Mom is going to see through our plan, get ticked and cut us out of the will for a few months. And suppose she dies during that time? Then we are really screwed?"

"All right, boys, I'm ready to meet your charming mother."

Brad and Tyler turned at the sound of Leo's gravelly voice, their jaws dropping in unison. Gone was the half-dressed, tubby, bald fire hydrant who had let them into his house. In his place was a handsome man wearing a charcoal grey suit, a crisp white shirt and a tasteful maroon tie. Leo looked like someone who might advertise good scotch in the New Yorker. "Well," Tyler said in a hopeful voice, "you look like you're ready to have a good time."

"I am," Leo assured him, "but I"m going to need to borrow a car from one of you two. My Gremlin broke down this morning and I can't get the sucker started for the life of me."


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fixing Mom Up on a Blind Date

"Mom, do you have a moment?" Tyler asked his mother after entering her mirrored dressing room. Catching a glimpse of his reflection in the ceiling, Tyler tried to flatten a cowlick that was sprouting on the top of his head but it didn't work. Time to make an appointment for a haircut with Mr. Keith. Thank God we're rich and I never have to go to one of those cut-rate places for a haircut, Tyler thought. It must really suck to be poor--which was exactly why he needed to make sure his mother didn't get hooked up with yet another loser in her latest round of the middle-aged Dating Game.

"Of course, darling," Mavis assured him, carefully applying an extra thick line of dark blue eyeliner and extending it into a large wing just past her left eye. "But keep it quick. Mommy has a date tonight."

"Oh, yeah? Who are you going out with?"

"No one you know, precious. Just a man." Mavis smirked at her reflection. "A very handsome man."

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Mom," Tyler said. "I, um, was wondering if you'd like to meet someone...someone sort of...well, you know..."

"Spit it out, Tyler," Mavis snapped. "What are you trying to say?"

"A friend of mine's widowed father just moved to Schuyler Square and I told him that you'd like to have dinner with him."

Mavis laughed. "Why on earth did you tell him that? I don't need any help from my son to find a date. I do quite well on my own, thank you very much."

"I know that--"

"Then why are you sneaking behind my back, arranging blind dates for me?" Half turning in her chair, Mavis peered intently at Tyler. "Unless this man is incredibly good looking and insanely wealth--then I'd know that you only have your mommy's best interests at heart. Is he handsome and rich?"

"He makes Donald Trump look like a chump and he's a dead ringer for Tom Cruise," Tyler assured her. "And he's dying to meet you."

Mavis turned back to the mirror and began to fuss with her curls. "Well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt if I met the man. When are we supposed to get together?"

"Tomorrow night at the club."

"All right. I happen to be free tomorrow night but right now I'm running late. I'm meeting the most divine man at that new bar downtown--the one with the illuminated skull over the door."

"Your going to Headhunters?" Tyler felt his eyes bulge inside his own skull. The thought of his classy mother hanging out at a dive like Headhunters--blowing his future inheritance--made him sick to his stomach. Until recently Tyler had never cared too much about money but lately he'd done a great deal of growing up in that regard and he'd come to realize that not only was he entitled to his half of the Schuyler fortune, he also deserved it and he was going to make damn sure that his mother didn't blow it all before her number was up. "Have you ever been there before?"

"Not really. I walked past it once and peeked inside but I have to admit that it looked a little dingy to me.But Chuck assured me that I'll love their Red Headed Sluts."

"WHAT?"

"It's a drink, Tyler. Calm down. I think it has peach schnapps or something healthy like that in it. Doesn't it sound intriguing?"

Things were far worse than Tyler had even imagined. His mother usually stuck to dry martinis and now she was going to go drink a Red Headed Slut? Could life get any worse? Or any more confusing? "Then you'll go out with my friend's dad tomorrow," he confirmed.

Rising to her feet, Mavis squirted on a cloud of Opium and then patted him lightly on one cheek. "Of course I will. Especially if he's a rich and as handsome as you say he is. I'll see you later."

"Be home early!" Tyler called after her as Mavis floated out of her dressing room and toward the staircase. A moment later he heard the front door shut. Tyler sank into his mother's makeup chair and stared at his downcast reflection. Great. Just great. His mother was out with some gigolo and he needed to find someone who would be willing to pretend to be a grieving widower who just happened to be as rich as Donald Trump before tomorrow night. It looked like he had his work cut out for him.

Friday, July 25, 2014

There is Something Seriously Wrong With Mom

"There is something seriously wrong with Mom," Tyler Schuyler told his older brother Brad. The two brothers were seated in the library at Schuyler Manor, watching television and being as unproductive as possible, two activities they both excelled at.

"What are you talking about? She's just the same as she always is," Brad said in a bored voice as he channel surfed. "How come no one shows reruns of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' when I can watch them? They always put them on when I'm not home."

"She is not the same as she always is," Tyler argued. "She's acting weird."

"She's always weird."

"Well, she's weirder. Have you looked at her lately?"

"Not really."

"You should. She's dressing like she's Tiffany's age in tight shirts and skirts that are way too short and her hair's all strange and straight and she told me yesterday that she's thinking about getting a tattoo."

"No kidding! Mom, a tattoo? Of what?"

"Of Cher."

"Why the hell would she get a tattoo of Cher?"

"Because she's decided that she looks like Cher and that if she has a tattoo of Cher on her shoulder, people will comment on the resemblance between the two of them."

Brad laughed. "You're right; that is weird even for Mom. Well, so what? She's entitled to have a little fun at her age."

"And then there's this." Tyler pulled a book out from under the sofa where he'd hidden it earlier that day. "I found it on her nightstand." Waving it it under Brad's nose, he asked, "Why would she be reading this?"

"If you'd stop waving it back and forth maybe I could read the title," Brad said. "What is it?"

"Cougar Lifestyles for Dummies," Tyler said. "Don't you see what's happening right under our noses? Mom is turning into a cougar!"

"Mom? Don't be ridiculous. Mom has way too much class too do anything like that. She'd never become a cougar--she'd look like an idiot if she showed up at the country club with a younger guy."

"Remember that police officer she moved in here last year?" Tyler questioned. "He was younger than Mom."

"That was just some strange pre-menopausal fling," Brad told him.

"Then what about this?" Tyler reached under the sofa again and pulled out his mother's cell phone. "Mom been texting some guy named Chuck. Or should I say she's been sexting him. Some of her messages are pretty embarrassing."

"You stole Mom's cell phone and read her texts? I think you're the one with the problem, Tyler. Ever since you broke up with Mindy, you've gotten definitely strange. What do you care who Mom dates or doesn't date? You need to get out more."

Tyler played his best card. "I'm just thinking about our inheritance," he said darkly. "If Mom did get remarried, her new husband might go through all the money that we're supposed to inherit especially if he's a lot younger than she is and outlives her."

"No one could go through that much money," Brad argued.

"They could try."

At last he had his brother's full attention. "So what can we do about it?" Brad questioned.

"Simple," Tyler replied,. "We have to find a suitable date for our mother ourselves. And I know exactly just the right guy--that is, unless you want Mom to get Cher on one shoulder and Sonny on the other."

"Of course I don't! Let's get started. After all, we're only thinking of Mom."

"Naturally," Tyler agreed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What's a Cougar?

The problem with living in a small town, Mavis Schuyler mused, was that it was so amazingly predictable. Especially for someone like Mavis, self-proclaimed Queen of Schuyler Square and the one woman that all other female Schuyler Square-ites longed to emulate. And the problem with predictability was that it could get a touch boring.

Making her way to her bi-weekly appointment with Mr. Keith, Mavis walked past at least half a dozen other women who eyed her with an envy so obvious that Mavis almost felt sorry for them. Really, it wasn't her fault that she'd been born wealthy, beautiful and fairly bright. Nor was it her fault that her late husband had also been fabulously wealthy. People simply had to accept the fact that rich people almost always married other rich people. Such unions were guarantees of good genes and decadent bank accounts. With a satisfied sigh she pushed open the door of Mr. Keith's Creations and took a deep breath of the hairspray scented air.

"Mavis!" Mr. Keith greeted her effusively. "How do you do it?" he demanded. "Those eyes, that hair--those cheekbones! You're such a gorgeous creature. What are you doing in a backwater town like Schuyler Square?"

Although Mr. Keith's remarks were almost identical to what he said to her each time he saw her, as Mavis sank into Mr. Keith's chair she found herself actually listening to him for a change. What was a stunning creature like herself doing in a dumpy little soap opera town like Schuyler Square? There was no reason for her to stay. Her husband was dead, her children were a disappointment and the police kept acting like she had something to do with that unfortunate murder of that dreadful little chemist a few months back. She should move to New York or Rome or Paris. She owed it to herself.

"I see you have another admirer," Mr. Keith said an hour later as he brushed out her hair. "Although I'm not surprised. You really are such a cougar."

"A what?" Mavis asked.

"A cougar. You know--a beautiful middle-aged woman who can't help attracting younger men." Mr. Keith nodded toward the mirror they were both facing. "Look at that. He can't take his eyes off of you."

Looking into the mirror Mavis saw a stunning man staring at her from across the beauty salon. With his tousled brown hair, big blue-grey eyes and pretty amazing cheekbones of his own it was like looking at a movie star. A very sexy, very young movie star who just happened to be a dead ringer for Liam Neeson. "Who is that?" Mavis whispered.

"Chuck Foster. He just bought the restaurant next door. He comes in here to get his nails manicured once a week. Not bad, I'd say."

"No," Mavis agreed, "not bad at all--although he is a touch younger than I am." Like ten or fifteen years but she'd never admit that to Mr. Keith.

"That's why you're a cougar," Mr. Keith explained. "You attract younger men like flames attract moths. It's a gift, Mavis. Especially in a small town where men who are your age are about as rare as blizzards in August."

He had a point. "Is he married?" Mavis asked. Married men were too complicated, something she knew after her unfortunate entanglement with a married police officer the year before.

"I don't know. Why don't you ask him? He's coming over here and believe me it isn't to ask me for my number.

Mavis felt a surprising attack of nerves. Just that morning she had been bored and tired of small town living. Looking up into Chuck Foster's amazing grey-blue eyes she had the feeling that something extremely interesting was about to happen and that being bored was the last thing she needed to worry about.

"Hello," Chuck Foster said in a deep, velvet smooth voice. "You're dying to meet me, aren't you?"